With this year’s International Women’s Day theme being “Balance for Better,” I’ve been thinking about gender balance, especially in the workplace. I work at the intersection of two sectors that have traditionally been polar opposites in terms the number of female vs. male employees. Tech has undeniably been dominated by men, while the employee base for nonprofits is on average 75% women.
What needs to happen for there to be a better balance in both these sectors? I need only to look at my own workplace, Traction on Demand, to see the numbers just start to even out. I believe one sweet spot is where nonprofit and tech meet. There are many women in our nonprofit practice that have come to us directly from the nonprofit sector, rather than from other tech organizations, which may be the more traditional route to get in with an organization like Traction on Demand. Perhaps this sweet spot—the merging of nonprofit and tech— is the avenue by which we will start seeing more female applicants.
While there are over 500 incredible people making their own impact and contributing to Traction on Demand, I’d like to take a moment, on this International Women’s Day, to highlight the journeys of three women who bridged their heads and their hearts to find their way here.
Michelle evaluated where she could make the biggest impact
Michelle Malpass, Director of Community Performance, is the godmother of our nonprofit practice at Traction on Demand. She joined Traction on Demand eight years ago to bring to life the Pablo Picasso quote, “The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.” As the driving force behind Traction for Good and the Bandit Tour, she mobilized Traction on Demand in a way that has resulted in over $1 million worth of Salesforce service grants given to nonprofit organizations.
She left a growing career in the nonprofit sector—leaving the Executive Director role at the Take a Hike Youth at Risk Foundation—to help Traction on Demand find its purpose.
Samantha took a passion and made it a career
There are some people who enter your life and then you can’t remember what life was like before them. For me, that’s Samantha Turley, Regional VP of Business Development. Samantha has spent the majority of her career in the nonprofit sector and wasn’t an obvious choice for the role of business development manager on paper. We knew we needed someone who understood the needs of our nonprofit customers, but we also needed someone who could sell complex projects to CIOs, CTOs and Directors of IT. In hiring Sam it quickly became obvious that great fundraisers, make great sales people. Sam attributes her success to the way she is able to establish and nourish relationships.
We took a chance on her, she took a chance on us, and we all learned there are many skills picked up in the nonprofit sector that are transferable to a career in tech.
Lynda went from accidental techie to solutions architect
Lynda En, Nonprofit Solutions Architect, joined Traction on Demand three years ago as the second official member of the nonprofit practice (after me!). Although by this point many people were already contributing to the success of our nonprofit customers, hiring Lynda gave credence to the need for dedication to the practice in order for it to grow. Lynda, with her ability to pick up many new skills, generally found herself as the accidental techie at each organization where she worked. Fast forward to her role at Traction on Demand, and her technology leadership here is no accident. She’s been able to take her interest in nonprofits and an ability in technology to build a career in a growing field.
These women have incredible careers ahead of them, as do all the other women at Traction on Demand. I believe the intersection of nonprofit and technology, especially, provides an incredibly important opportunity to grow our future female leaders.
If you know an amazing woman or man who would make a difference in our nonprofit practice, regardless of their employment background, I’d love to get to know them. Check out all the opportunities to join Traction on Demand here.
Written by Jessica Langelaan, VP of Nonprofit Solutions, Traction on Demand.